Ostner bought an interest in a pack trail bridge in Garden Valley. The toll bridge was a reliable source of income. It gave him some time to pursue his art.
Horses were often the centerpiece of Ostner’s paintings (see Bear’s Attack below). In 1865 he felled a large pine at his Garden Valley homestead and set out to make a grand gesture for the recently formed Idaho Territory.
Ostner had some patience. It took him four years to carve the wooden statue of George Washington astride a horse that stands on the fourth floor of the Idaho statehouse today. Ostner modeled the statue in snow before committing it to pine. He studied the likeness of George Washington on a postage stamp to get the face right.
Ostner donated the statue to the Territory of Idaho in 1869. The Legislature granted him $2,500 for the work. It stood outside the statehouse on a pedestal for 65 years, before it was brought inside and gilded. For years the horse and rider were parked outside of the attorney general’s office, giving the secretary behind those glass doors an unobstructed view of the tail end of a golden horse. The statue was moved to the fourth floor during the 2007 renovation of the building.
Ostener died in 1913 and is buried in Morris Hill Cemetery in Boise.